Sunday, January 29, 2012

Movie Update 37

You know what's up.


This is the only produced Coen brothers script that the brothers didn't direct themselves, though the duties were taken by their friend Sam Raimi. It combines elements of both of their careers in film, and combines them to create what might be best described as a live action Looney Tunes movie. The subject matter is darker, but the actual content of the film really isn't. When a man hires a couple of goons with silly voices to kill his business partner after finding out about his betrayal, they end up going on a rampage through the city, with one of the man's employees and a girl he meets getting caught up in it. It's a very strange and silly movie, with some very elaborate comedic setups, surprisingly exciting moments of action, and an entertaining appearance by Bruce Campbell. A bizarre film that you'll probably like if you're a fan of the filmmakers involved.


It's always interesting to me how sterile and stately the horror films of the 20s and 30s are. Genre icon Bela Lugosi stars in his signature role, instilling Dracula with charm and menace as he moves from Transylvania to London in order suck a lot of blood. It's of course pretty toothless in comparison to modern vampire stories, but I mostly enjoyed the slow discovery by the other characters of what Dracula really is and their calm attempts to prevent him from killing or enslaving any more women. Heh, toothless.

One from the Heart

Post-70s Francis Ford Coppola continues to make absolutely no sense to me. One from the Heart tells the story of a couple in Las Vegas that finds their relationship falling apart, and their struggles to either resolve their differences and move on with their lives. What makes the movie different is its musical quality - the characters don't really sing, but the original music by Tom Waits pervades the whole thing, it frequently dabbles in an unreal sense of space, and the film is entirely and totally obviously filmed on elaborate sets at a soundstage. The movie's budget problems and failure at the box office cost Coppola a ton of money, and a lot of his career from then on can be attributed to continued financial problems. Was it worth it? Uh, not really. The movie is okay.

Witness for the Prosecution

A courtroom drama directed by Billy Wilder, based on a play, based on a story by Agatha Christie. Other actors get higher billing, but the star of the show is definitely Charles Laughton, an aging English lawyer who was recently released from the hospital and decides to take on the defense of a man accused of murder, against his doctors' wishes. The trial itself is pretty straightforward, until the characters start making unexpected choices and Laughton has to stay on his feet to deal with the changes and continue the defense to his best ability. The ending is so twisty that a voice actually advises the audience to avoid spoiling it to their friends so they can enjoy it too. It's a well-made and wonderfully acted legal drama that wraps up satisfyingly without letting anything come too easily.

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